Why We Put Ourselves Last
1 January 2019
You know that prioritizing your self-care is important. You know boundaries are key to keeping you healthy, energetic and happy. So why is it sometimes so difficult to put it into practice? What’s stopping you putting yourself first?
There’s enormous pressure to keep other people happy, to be ‘unselfish’ and to take responsibility for other people’s emotions. Society wants you to be a people-pleaser, and that's especially true if you’re a woman. So, you might need some extra support to prioritize your self-care and stop the habit of putting yourself last. Here are a few self-care myths busted to help clear the way.
- No one will like me if I say no
That is a potent one! Part of the strength of the ‘being unselfish’ myth is that people will like you more. That equates to being good will ensure you're loved. It doesn’t. They won’t. They will love or like you for being you, not for what you can do for them. A good relationship is not transactional, and if people judge you for having healthy boundaries or for what they can get out of you, you don’t need them in your life.
- Giving is your identity
The ‘good girl’ narrative depends on you identifying as the unselfish caregiver. You get positive strokes for always being the one running around helping others. But it should be balanced by being able to receive. Setting some healthy boundaries doesn’t mean you stop giving; it means you stay balanced - by having time for you, so you don’t get burned out. In fact, learning to receive will make you a better caregiver as you will be happier and have more energy!
- Self-care is selfish
Self-care is the complete opposite of being selfish. Self-care is applying the same level of kindness to yourself as you do to your family, friends, and colleagues. There’s enormous pressure to be selfless and to be all things to everyone in our lives. It can feel like there’s just not enough of you to go around, and if you’re not careful, you will end up exhausted, sick, and resentful.
Your mind and body need space and rest to restore and heal from the stresses of everyday life. Start by carving out some non-negotiable downtime in your week. Loosen your schedule, so it’s not crammed with obligations. Prioritize sleep, good food, and rest. And practice saying no!
It’s okay to be there for others, to be kind and loving, but you shouldn’t leave yourself behind. Instead of getting caught up in negative self-talk about being good and unselfish, reframe the conversation using kindness as your watchword, and starting with yourself.